As a company who works with heritage reclaimed wood on a daily basis, we have learned to scan our surroundings for signs of authentic historic barn wood. One trip through the countryside can produce sights of century old standing barns with hand hewn beams, barn siding, and rusty metal roofs intact, or new multi-million dollar homes with soaring hand hewn timber-framing and walls clad in weathered grey barn siding. This continual cycle of giving new life to aged architecture is as old as time, but the way we are doing it today is an exciting evolution to watch, transforming the architectural landscape.
Old barns are an excellent source for reclaimed wood that can be incorporated into present-day architectural vernacular because they were crafted to last and contain many viable pieces that blend excellently with contemporary architecture, uniquely enhancing new projects. When we dismantle a barn to resell at our facility, we are able to reuse most of the original materials, which include:
Projects incorporating reclaimed barn wood often utilize more than one of our products. For example, the Timber + Stone Mountain Home in the Colorado mountains incorporates barn wood in the form of heavy Douglas fir timbers, weathered grey siding, and oak flooring that complement heavy stone work throughout. In some cases, entire barns are moved and reassembled as part of new projects, as seen in the 1860s Barn Conversion.
Distinguished Boards + Beams Project Walkthroughs
The contemporary architectural world is full of creative projects by designers who have woven authentic reclaimed barn wood into their work and the dreams of home and business owners. Our wood has been featured on 100s of homes and business since we first began reclaiming barn wood in 2001. To show you how projects incorporating barn wood into a number of design elements come together, we have provided walkthroughs of recent projects that we worked closely on with homeowners, architects, and contractors, providing the best quality barn wood, to help make them a reality:
- Hand Hewn Tahoe Efficiency Residence: Hand hewn slab siding, hand hewn timbers, barn board paneling
- Carbondale Residence: Hand hewn slab siding, hand hewn timbers, barn siding and paneling, threshing and snow fence flooring
- Timber + Stone Mountain Home: Douglas fir timber frame, weathered grey barn wood, oak flooring
- Sopris View Home: Hand hewn slab siding and timber frame, barn siding, threshing floors, rusty metal siding
- River Valley Residence House: Douglas fir slab siding, Douglas fir timbers
- Whole Foods Market: Rough sawn brown and smooth back brown barn wood
Hand Hewn Tahoe Efficiency Residence
What do you do when you want the authenticity of an historic hand hewn log cabin with the energy efficiency of cutting edge modern architecture? The answer is simple: use hand hewn slab siding. This highly efficient Tahoe residence designed the entire home with hand hewn slab siding on both the exterior and interior walls with traditional daubing in between each timber. In between each wall face, the home is insulated and sealed with highly efficient modern techniques. The slabs are 100% authentic, since they are taken directly from the best faces of historic hand hewn beams. Corners were given traditional dovetail log construction joinery to further enhance the look.
In the great room, the homeowners wanted to go with traditional and rustic hammer-beam timber framing. Like the slab siding the beams are hand hewn, contributing to the overall look and texture. Massive hand hewn posts also anchor the pony wall between the kitchen and great room.
For the floor, reclaimed oak with a timeless 100% clean surface finish was installed throughout the home with a light stain. 100% clean means that the historic patina of the barn siding boards is planed to reveal the look of the oak as if it was freshly harvested and cut. Deeper character marks, such as small nail holes from the wood's first life will still remain. The advantage of reclaimed oak are clear when one looks closely at the freshly planed surfaces of our boards:
- Quality reclaimed siding boards that are milled into flooring have extremely tight growth rings and old growth grain patters that are hard to find in the modern lumber market
- Since the boards have slowly air dried over time, they are extremely stable after installation
- The old growth characteristics are not only beautiful but make for harder, denser, more durable flooring, even in high traffic areas.
This 100% clean reclaimed oak floor provides a nice counterbalance to the more rustic hand hewn textures in the beams and slab siding.
This unique residence was designed and built by the owners of Distinguished Boards + Beams. It went all out in its reclaimed barn wood creativity and elegance for a cohesive look that blends perfectly with the Roaring Fork Valley Colorado mountain town vernacular and local history.
Carbondale Residence: Hand Hewn Slab Siding
The first thing one might notice about this house is the hand hewn slab siding that gives the appearance of an historic hand hewn log cabin and showcases the unique character the original hand hewn barn timbers with their original axe marks and carved joinery pockets. This look is created by slabbing the best faces of hand hewn barn timbers and stacking them horizontally with chinking in-between. Tails, or notches, can also be added to the slab ends to join them at the corners like traditional log cabin construction.
Carbondale Residence: Hand Hewn Timbers
Hand hewn timber posts and beams adorn the exterior porches to complement horizontal hand hewn slab siding, vertical barn wood siding, dimensional lumber rafters, and rusty metal siding. Interior hand hewn timbers include posts, beams, and accent features.
Carbondale Residence: Barn Wood Siding
The Carbondale Residence exterior is clad in multiple tones of weathered grey vertical barn siding boards that blend with brown oak features in the barn style garage doors. Ship-lapped brown oak and weathered gray barn boards are also used for multiple interior doors and a custom made dresser.
Carbondale Residence: Threshing Flooring
Upstairs, thick wide-plank historic barn threshing flooring covers hallways and living areas. These the backs of these boards were planed down to 1 1/2-inch thickness and the sides were straight-line ripped, leaving the original rustic surface and achieving a tight fit. Because the material is so thick, it also works great for stair treads. Threshing flooring has unique character and original patina developed through generations of use in agrarian settings. See the threshing section of our flooring page for more details on this one-of-a-kind material.
Timber + Stone Mountain Home
This luxury timber-frame home incorporates reclaimed barn wood exclusively from our facility in the form of extensive Douglas fir timbers, weathered grey paneling and siding, and oak flooring to complement heavy stone work and timber framing.
Timber + Stone Mountain Home: Douglas Fir Timber Frame
The cathedral-style Douglas fir timber frame is masterfully crafted from original smooth planed patina heavy timbers. Traditional timber-framing and joinery techniques bring out the old growth character and original patina of these massive timbers that were once used to build America.
Timber + Stone Mountain Home: Weathered Grey Barn Wood Siding and Paneling
To complement the massive Douglas fir timbers, reclaimed oak flooring, and heavy stone work, weathered grey barn wood was used extensively as interior paneling, trim, accent features, and exterior soffit. To create a very tight fitting, seamless look, the boards were kiln dried then given lap profiles at our facility.
Timber + Stone Mountain Home: Reclaimed Oak Flooring
The oak flooring in the residence was reclaimed from oak barn boards and custom milled at our cutting edge facility in Carbondale. Flooring really can be the key ingredient to finish off the rustic and elegant look of a home that incorporates multiple reclaimed barn wood elements.
Sopris View Home
This mountain home with stunning views of the Colorado Rockies is one of our best examples of how all of the pieces of an historic barn can serve as an integral part of new architecture. Red and Grey barn wood siding, hewn slab siding, massive hand hewn timbers, and threshing flooring blend with traditional architectural styles to create an authentic and original design that not only incorporates reclaimed barn wood but also tells the story of the wood's historic life.
Sopris View Home: Barn Wood
Built in the style of a traditional dutch style barn, the garage is clad in faded red and grey reclaimed barn boards that add authenticity to the design. Soffit ranges from weathered grey hardwoods for the main roof and glowing red and brown Douglas fir for the massive timber-framed porch roof.
Sopris View Home: Hand Hewn Slab Siding
The homeowners loved the look of including original joinery pegs to complement hand carved mortise pockets in the hand hewn slab siding. Multiple color tones were intentionally used within the horizontal slabs to bring out the character of each individual piece.
Sopris View Home: Hand Hewn Timber Frame
Massive hand hewn timbers are used in a post and beam timber frame style throughout the interior and exterior of the home complement heavy stone work.
Sopris View Home: Threshing Flooring
Rustic threshing flooring was straight-line ripped and installed with a very light finish for a finished product that ranges from gold to dark brown and that is laden with original patina character. Heavily weathered grey threshing boards are also used for porch flooring on a large covered sitting area.
River Valley Residence
The River Valley home is a great example of how reclaimed barn wood can be used to create a rustic yet clean look that brings out the old growth characteristics of our reclaimed Douglas fir timbers. Reclaimed Douglas fir has become enormously popular with timber framers for its amazing durability and usability. Since the timbers have naturally air dried in their first lives in historic structures, they are very stable. Old growth rings and handsome grain patterns are eye catching in both original smooth planed patinas and newly planed surfaces, as seen in the River Valley Residence.
River Valley Residence: Douglas Fir Timber Frame
On the interior, reclaimed barn boards and Douglas fir timbers were planed to create a fresh and light look that reveals the original coloring before their historic patinas developed. The exterior showcases Douglas fir timbers that possess their original smooth planed patinas.
River Valley Residence: Douglas Fir Slab Siding and Wall Treatments
To match the timber frame, interior Douglas fir slab siding is surface planed for a cleaner and lighter look, while the exterior slabs are left with their original smooth planed patinas. Like hand hewn slab siding, chinking material is placed in-between slabs to create the look of a log cabin.
Whole Foods Market
We have worked closely with Whole Foods Market on a number of their projects in our region, incorporating reclaimed barn wood into their designs. Their Roaring Fork Valley store in Basalt, Colorado uses rough sawn and smooth back brown barn siding boards from heritage Colorado barns. The eating areas, food cases, coffee bar, and floral walls are all adorned with our barn wood. Store designers set out to represent the local mountain culture and history along with the colors, seasons, and ruggedness of the Roaring Fork Valley. The barn wood complements other locally reclaimed materials used in the project, such as vintage wooden skis, a chair lift, metal oxide beams, and tin from the ceilings of an historic church.
Barn Wood Architectural Projects by Architects that We Appreciate
It is an exciting time in the world of reclaimed barn wood as designers invent new and creative ways to incorporate the barn wood that has become so popular in a diverse range of architectural styles. There are architects who specialize in barn wood as an integral part of their design language and others who may have never used reclaimed wood before having met new clients with a love for the barn wood look and character. Below are a few designs that we believe embody what it is we are trying to achieve by providing the highest quality historic barn wood to projects that combine modern technology with our rich agrarian history.
- Luxury Breckenridge Residence: Two Hand Hewn Cabins, hand hewn timbers, barn siding, barn wood flooring
Reclaimed 1860s Barn Conversion: Rustic Guesthouse Entertainment
When a couple in Greenwich, New York decided that they needed more space for entertaining guests, they asked architect Douglas VanderHorn to locate and repurpose a heritage barn to complement their estate's early 19th Century home. VanderHorn found the perfect barn in Albany, New York through a professional reclaimed wood vendor. It was carefully dismantled and moved to the Greenwich job site where with a few creative architectural twists, the Albany barn was given new life as a spacious guest home and entertainment space.
1860s Barn Conversion: Hand Hewn Timber Frame
The barn's original hand hewn timber frame was reassembled identical to the original structure using the frame's original scribe marks and hand carved joinery.
1860s Barn Conversion: Threshing Flooring
The barn's original 2 1/2 inch thick threshing floors were installed into the new floor plan and refinished. In an article detailing this project on Houzz, the architect jokes about how a tractor could still drive over the converted barn's robust flooring, as they did in the times of the original heritage structure.
1860s Barn Conversion: Barn Wood Siding
The reclaimed barn siding was used for exterior siding and trim, interior wall and ceiling paneling, and accent features. To complete the exterior siding, Douglas fir boards were reclaimed from another heritage barn. A custom wet bar in the kitchen is made of reclaimed wormy chestnut that creates a perfect complement to the barn's rustic interior.
1860s Barn Conversion: Wine Cellar
This Greenwich guest house continues its rustic journey underground with a full wine cellar decked out in reclaimed wood from the original Albany barn with the help of additional reclaimed hand hewn ceiling beams and lumber for shelving. The rolling wine cabinet doors are reminiscent of the Albany barn's original doors. All in all this barn conversion guesthouse/entertainment space is 3100 square feet of New York history, reclaimed gems, and contemporary architectural warmth.
Luxury Breckenridge Residence
We love what Allen-Guerra Architects has done in Breckenridge, Colorado with the Ridge Ranch house. The home incorporates two historic hand hewn log cabins, hand hewn barn beams, and barn wood into a luxury mountain residence that is truly one of a kind. For a photo slideshow of this fine home see the Allen-Guerra Architects website.
Millers Architects has been both a pioneer and an innovator in the world of using reclaimed barn wood in present day designs that recall the honesty, simplicity, and elegance of the past. They have designed many projects that incorporate entire barns and cabins that are moved from the original site and incorporated into a new home. Their Montana Hybrid is a perfect example of how a barn wood veneer can work harmoniously with highly efficient, cutting edge construction technology. Historic hand hewn timbers and logs, fir flooring, and barn siding work with energy efficient windows, latex polymer chinking, and radiant heat work together to create a space that allows the home owners to honor and appreciate the past in a comfortable and modern way. See a Western Interiors article and pictures of the Montana Hybrid here.
Why Do We Love Reclaimed Barn Wood So Much?
The reaction one has to reclaimed barn wood is one of those things in life that can be pleasantly unexplainable. One of the great values of reclaimed historic wood is in its intrinsic character, developed through living alongside of and then outliving our ancestors to be reborn into contemporary lives. Infused with a sort of emotional content that draws on our imaginations, barn wood fascinates us and imprints a personal touch. Humans love a good story, and projects incorporating historic barn wood showcase a plethora of stories that began in historic times. When we look at a hand hewn log, we see and feel each hew mark while also imagining the historic process required to create such work, the families whose it sheltered, and the pristine forest the tight old growth rings slowly developed in. Compared to seeing a cookie-cutter piece of freshly milled new growth wood from the contemporary lumber industry, the experience of heritage reclaimed wood is a much deeper and more vivid experience.
Culture of Hand Craftsmanship
With the rise of wood milling technology in the late 19th century, came the fall of the dimensionally large boards, logs, and timbers of old. Mills could produce, sell, and ship more lumber if it was smaller in size, which led to a paradigm shift in architectural culture. Massive posts and beams were replaced by dimensional stick-frame lumber. Old growth forests became sparse, which led to the cutting of smaller trees and the planting of second growth forests designed to grow quickly. This new breed of wood lacked the desirable characteristics of slow-grown virgin forests and has dominated the lumber industry and architectural popular culture ever since. Reclaiming wood from historic structures for new designs recalls a culture of hand craftsmanship that utilized the best lumber from some of the finest old growth trees that have ever existed.
Golden Age of Reclaimed Wood?
When the newly built homes of today grow old will future generation be so enthusiastic about reclaiming and reusing their bones in new architectural projects? It is hard to say, but one thing is for certain: in general, the wood products from the contemporary lumber industry are no match for the old growth handmade wood pieces from the 18th through mid-20th century in size, craftsmanship, or character. Chances are, the heritage reclaimed wood materials that are desired today will continue to be coveted in the future for their story, durability, strength, and beauty.
Technology advancements also makes this a perfect time in history for reclaiming wood. Hand crafted old growth lumber has existed for thousands of years, but the ability to find, reclaim, and reincorporate choice pieces of wood was restricted by barriers to transportation and construction technology. Today, we can easily locate specific reclaimed wood products, transport them worldwide, and install them in ways never imagined. As seen in the Montana Hybrid, modern advances in architectural efficiency and convenience work hand in hand with authentic barn wood to create homes that are sustainable and comfortable while celebrating the character and warmth of our architectural heritage.
See our Reclaimed Log Cabins page for information on projects incorporating historic hand hewn log cabins into new designs.